Barack Obama once was tucked in at night by a Jewish camp counselor.
John McCain has a Jewish best friend — a real regular Joe.
My first Cub Scout Den Mother — who honestly deserved to be named Den Mother of the Year — was African-American. My favorite pizza place is run by Greek immigrants. Neither one of those facts qualifies me to be the keynote speaker for the NAACP or earns me automatic membership in the fraternity house of my choice.
The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart recently mocked the obsequious behavior of presidential candidates attending the national AIPAC conference, charging that they were all afraid to even remotely criticize Israel. The reality is that pandering is at the core of all politics.
Consider how much impact a few Spanish catch phrases had on the Hispanic vote for President Bush. Or how carefully John McCain chooses his words when talking about illegal immigration.
Personally, I recoiled at Stewart’s hokey Eastern European Jewish grandma accent, fearing the comedian might be morphing into the intolerable Jackie Mason.* But as I make the case on the Ha’Aretz Ed-Op page, The Daily Show does a stellar job in ridiculing the patronizing nature of ethnic politics in general.
After showing the audience a clip of Republican nominee John McCain not just bragging about visiting Jerusalem — but gallivanting around the Holy City with U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman — Stewart snaps: “When you go to Israel, you don’t need to bring your own Jew! There’s a wide variety of Jews there.”
He goes on to call Israel, a “Whitman’s Sampler of Jews.”
* Some mean people in the comments section of Ha’aretz said some very mean things about me. Including attacking me for the sin of not being famous — at least not famous enough to criticize Jon Stewart’s accent with any authority.